On the art of being involved with God without falling off the horse: About Friendship and faith.
"Greater love has no-one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. " (Joh 15,13)
"So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. " (Luke 11,9 ff)
" ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. 9 ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55,8-9)
My dear friends,
When I believe in a friend, I do not doubt him, whether I understand all his decisions or not.
The moment a friend assures me of something or asks me to do something, I do not hesitate to do it. Even if I have a friend who asks me to put a banana on the neighbor's windowsill and it seems totally absurd to me, I will do it. Why? Well, I believe in him, in our friendship, in our inner connection. I believe that he will neither deceive me nor mislead me. "He will have his reason"- this may be a shoulder-shrugging thought that flashes in us. "But at the latest when I meet him next time, he will already tell me why this was important now. "
If a good friend, whose friendship I believe in, tells me he's coming at eight o'clock to help me paint my apartment, then I'll certainly assume and rely on that. And the great thing is: he will be at the door not only with painting stuff, but also with a bag of rolls and a smile. Because he loves me and knows I love breakfast.
If a good friend tells me do such and such, and I've benefited from his wisdom many times, I'll do exactly what he says. Why? Because I trust him. I know him. I love him. If it seems totally suspect to me, then I will just ask him why I should do that. And of course he will explain it to me until I get it.
What would not occur to me, however, is to question him. If I doubt someone to the fullest extent, constantly examine their words for the hook, or worse, twist them to my liking, then what we have can hardly be called friendship.
I think we agree on these points.
Furthermore, it would hardly occur to us to make allegations in the name of our friend without first having consulted with him whether it is okay.
You can calmly call it a breach of trust if I take advantage of my friend's position in this way. "I know xy, that's why I'm allowed to enter this building. I know xy, that's why I'm allowed to write on his credit. I know xy, therefore I get to write his name under my statement." Oh my. No, I think that's very presumptuous, and needs his okay at least once. Better, of course, if he is happy to give and confirm it himself when asked. Of course, you always take the risk that he will say no if you ask him, but better a straight relationship with each other than such exploitation of friendship privileges. It only gets worse when I go and make demands of my friend. "Here, xy, is my current wish list. Fulfill it. You said so. Go shopping for me. I'll expect delivery of Camp David, Jil Sander and Dior on Thursday then. See you then."
No, in life we would never treat a good friend like that. We wouldn't twist his statements or help ourselves to everything he has to offer without being asked. Moreover, if he is always the giver, he will eventually shrug his shoulders in resignation. "What am I here? A wish fulfillment machine? Maybe I need you someday, too? But when I call you, it always goes to voicemail. You don't answer either. And when you do answer, I'm happy, but it's not even enough for a "Hello, how are you? I miss you." No, it's all about you again and your life and your plans and what I can do for you. Great friendship, thank you."
One more thing belongs unalterably to a real friendship: the will to spend time with each other and to get to know the other better. To do this, you ask about the other. Nothing is more fruitful and invigorating than an evening spent with friends in good discussions and cheerful serene exchanges. Isn't that so? The beauty of friends is: you don't have to pretend. No one has to. And it's not so important whether your hairstyle is perfect or whether the clothes you're wearing cost 3,000 euros or 80 euros. It's about what we are. Who we are. And about creating shared memories and shared paths that we have walked. "Remember back then?"
I want to understand the thoughts of the person I'm talking to. And I want to learn from him or her because he or she is different from me. At the very best, I know I'm seen, recognized, and loved. Although I may be really complicated sometimes. But the best friends are the ones who can redirect me, who know exactly what I need when I'm about to lose myself. And the most precious thing is: we know each other. I know exactly what my friends like and what they don't, what they stand for and what they don't, and so I feel safe with them. I can judge them - and I can recognize their voice among hundreds.
Jesus- said that no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for his ....friends.
The same Jesus said to us that he is with us always, until the end of the world, and that he will not leave us orphaned, but will send the Holy Spirit to remind us of everything he said. A substitute, so to speak, always available, who will bridge the time, "the little while in which we cannot see him", because he knows him and is one with him. He will teach us, he will guide us. He will remind us of all that Jesus is. Yes, heavens, how can he do that when he supposedly has no voice!!!? Or is a superpower that comes down on us and makes us cringe instead of reminding us of Jesus?
No. The Holy Spirit is a person. The third person of God, and from and in Him we live in Jesus.
Faith, dear friends, is the firm acceptance that something is the way it is. Period. If I believe in something, I believe it irrefutably, otherwise I don't really believe it. I believe it to be real. For true, for desirable, and for as real as the coffee maker in the kitchen. I take it for granted. What I don't do is doubt it at every turn and abstract, interpret or change it.
Since the Holy Spirit is a Person, He will not manifest Himself differently in one place than in another. He will do the same thing everywhere. He will not contradict himself nor reveal knowledge to individuals and withhold it from others. No, he will equip and meet everyone according to his own personality, but he himself is unchangeable and immediately recognizable to everyone who knows him. Without doubt and without confusion. For nothing about his self-expression will change. And since he is God, he is also absolutely reliable, clear and invasive. He does not say something and take it back. He doesn't announce something and then let it go down the drain. No, the Holy Spirit sticks to his plans and what he says happens.
It's our tendency these days to make faith into something squishy, self-referential and open to interpretation. But you know, when it comes to Jesus- we better take him at his word and not try to reinterpret him. Above all, it's completely silly to speculate so much about him. When it comes to the living relationship with the Holy Spirit, that is, listening today to impulses that come from Him or believing in His work, we have a wonderful check up list, a portrait available in all details, against which we can match what we perceive.
It is called: The Bible.
Here, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will recognize very quickly whether an impulse comes from Jesus or not, because he made it very clear what corresponds to him and what does not: If we have the impulse to leave our wife because it was not the one chosen by God ( Helmut Bauer, Wort und Geist), then that is not God. He said very clearly that we should not break the marriage. He does not contradict himself. If a spirit not only promises worldly wealth, but makes it a maxim, then that is not God. Well, he has blessed in individual cases (Abraham, Solomon, David), but you have to see that Jeremiah was not exactly swimming in money and the Israelites at some point could hardly stand the manna. Even the widow of Sarepta, which Elijah accommodated (on God's command!). did not live then in luxury, but with oil and flour, which did not run out... Jesus did not conjure up a Roman feast at the feeding of the 5000, but indirectly invited sharing by receiving bread and fish from the crowd and blessing them. We read nothing of a five-course meal here.....
And also the really funny fish with the coin in the mouth had exactly so much money "in itself" that it was enough to pay for the tax of Peter and his family. Extra bonus..rather not. And also healing- was granted, and elsewhere- not. So whoever promises healing for everyone and everything is lying. Jesus healed, that is true. And yes, we are to pray (ask!) for the sick. But nowhere do we find a place where Jesus healed the masses, always, reliably. Many yes, many- not. We must know him, ask him, trust him, even where we do not understand him. For he has the plan, not us, and sees things in our future that we do not comprehend. But what he promises is total restoration for all those he calls his friends, at the end of all days and on the morning of the first, new day in a completely restored, new world.
How we deal with Jesus in this way is really questionable. I wrote about friendship in the beginning. And that you do what a friend asks you to do. How much more should we do what our Savior, friend and King asks of us? Maybe we don't always understand, and maybe sometimes it's quite a lot to ask. But we need to understand (perhaps newly or for the first time) that having relationship is mutual, that Jesus is neither a voiceless religion nor unapproachable. Of course he gives us impulses, all of us, every day. "Why don't you send a Bible verse to..." "Oh, that poor homeless guy over there, it's so cold. I should at least get him a hot lunch." "Ask her how she is." "No, don't ask him that right now, he's really beat." "Talk to that man over there and pray for him." "Put the banana right at that intersection, leave a message on the bench at the next but one intersection. " How many of these impulses do we implement?
I can assure you that those who learn to follow them experience incredible stories of the reality of God. Conversions. Conversations, paths that open up. Gratitude. Reconfirmation. "I just asked God for someone to give me lunch. Awesome that you did that now".
I think more often we don't than we do. And then there's this thing about answering prayer:
You know, the occuring fussing before Jesus' throne sometimes is really unbearable. Just ask him. Just ask. "Jesus, can you please take me into your protection tonight? Would you please resolve this situation for me? Jesus, will you please send me your angels? I am being attacked. Jesus, I don't understand this scripture, this commandment. I mean, look, the way I see it is, can you explain to me why that is?"
You'll be amazed at how much He's willing to give, reliably give, if we'll just ask Him. But there is dancing around the bush, there is declaring, there is proclaiming, claiming, ...just go to him and ask him. And if he gives you something, then thank him. And perhaps ask him this week if he loves you. "Please Jesus, show me that you love me. Thank you. I truly need to be seen by you. Thank you for doing this! I really need, Jesus, a perceptible sign from you" And then also expect him to do it and be open to receiving his sign and believing it. And in return, ask him what you can do for him this week. And be ready to be interrupted!
Be aware and ready to receive it.
I said this to a friend. Ask him. Ask him. And since then, things have been happening every day to confirm to her that she is seen. People come and say they have an impulse to tell her something, to give her something, to bless her.
You know, it's very simple with what Jesus does: He is clear. Clear, practical.
Experiential. Here, with us. Not in distant heavens where we are invited to travel to for 100 bucks. Nonsense! And if prophecies, impressions do not come true, you know, they are not from him. If we are stuck in religions, we are empty inside. How real do you think Jesus is? Is he so real to you that a sunrise could be a sign of his greatness and love? An unexpected check his intervention? A meme an affirmation? Or do you think he is distant and not interested in you? That you need to do difficult exercises to connect with him? With that question, I send you in this fresh upcoming week.
The Holy Bible, New International Version: quoted with www.bibleserver.com
Song: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.